Freelance Writing and the New Graduate

Question: Freelance Writing and the New Graduate

Dear Writer,

I am graduating in a week and not interested in the publishers and magazines recruiting at my college's career fairs. What I am interested in is establishing a freelance writing business. What advice would you give a new grad looking to freelance right out of college?


Hi Student,

What an incredible, excellent question! I've not got this one yet!

I've heard time and again that your generation is a generation of entrepreneurs who are independent workers interested in building their own future. Those are great characteristics for someone wishing to be a freelance writer. BUT, before you make the decision, I want you to consider a couple factors.

First and foremost, you should definitely give some thought to the issues of insurance and regular pay. You are lucky in that the new health care reform allows you to stay on your parents' health insurance for a short while. That would be a great honeymoon period to set up a freelance career. However, that doesn't solve the issue of erratic and unpredictable pay checks. It's definitely a serious pain and quite difficult to live on that kind of spotty income ALONE. These are two issues that many freelancers lean on a spouse for, which is an option many college grads won't yet have.

Another thing I want you to consider is that it may be important for you to work in a traditional job before you freelance, and here's why: the people that I freelance for are all in traditional offices.

So, I need to be able to relate to them, understand their point of view, adapt to their schedules, know their needs, relate to their stressors, and so on. You have to be sensitive to your clients, and I'm not sure you can do so without having seen that side of work life.

Another issue is how to build up clientele.

Many a freelancer's first clients were contacts made in the work world. Without that network, you're at a disadvantage from the start. Sure, you can try to make do with social media, LinkedIn and so on, but no one wants to start a career at a disadvantage.

In conclusion, I would honestly recommend that you see if you can get a little experience within a publisher before you freelance. My own clients are often quite interested in my past work with big-name publishers, so those are great names to have on your resumeĀ if you have the opportunity. You can always take on freelance work on the side in preparation for your eventual launch!

Thanks for the great question!